of coins, designed by Alex Shagin:
of four silver coins has been issued to commemorate the
Centennial of Aviation. The theme-coin features the Wright
Brothers' biplane and a futuristic space plane circling
the earth. The other three coins depict aviation pioneers,
along with their airplanes. Featured are Wilbur and Orville
Wright, whose historic flight was made on December 17, 1903;
Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo trans-Atlantic
flight in 1927; and an unsung pioneer -- Houdini, the great
magician -- who made the first sustained flight in Australia
on March 16, 1910.
feats of the Wright Brothers and Lindbergh are well known,
but Houdini's historic flight is all but forgotten today.
An article in "The Leader" (March 26, 1910) vividly
described the events that took place at Diggers Rest, about
30 km. north-west of Melbourne:
his first attempt Houdini sent his machine tearing across
the paddock at a tremendous speed, the biplane rising in
less than a hundred yards. Just as it rose the machine swerved
straight for a solid gum tree, and the hearts of the onlookers
beat fast as they saw disaster - perhaps death - right in
the track. Mechanically the aviator moved the elevating
lever, and the biplane skimmed over the tree like a bird.
A complete circle of the paddock was made at about 50 miles
an hour, and the descent was accomplished with perfect ease
and gracefulness. To land, Houdini flew low, stopped the
engine, and sailed easily and gently to earth on the momentum
of the machine. A second and more successful flight was
then made at a height of 100 feet, when the machine was
kept flying for nearly five minutes. Altogether Houdini
covered a distance of about seven miles."
Voison biplane, which at 1400 pounds (including pilot) was
then one of the largest heavier-than-air machines made,
is also pictured on the new Houdini coin; while the Wright
Brothers' biplane, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and
a futuristic space plane are depicted on the other three
coins in this Aviation Centennial Series, issued by the
Republic of Liberia.
official issue price of the 1 oz. pure silver $10 face value
proof coins is $39.95 each, and there is a limit of 1,000
4-coin proof sets available for $139. Orders should be sent
to the exclusive distributor PandaAmerica, 3460 Torrance
Blvd., Suite 100, Torrance, CA 90503. Credit card orders
can be placed by calling (800) 472-6327 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add $5.50 per order for shipping.
by Mel Wacks on December 16, 2003.